Dr Simon Webb - research
In general, our research interests are in mimicking aspects of biological systems, particularly the functions of biological membranes and the structural characteristics of cells. For further information on the group and our research, please visit: www.webblab.org
(A) Controlling vesicular adhesion for applications in Bio- and Nanotechnology
We aim to mimic the form and function of tissue by creating structurally defined aggregates of vesicles. The construction of our vesicle aggregates is mediated by synthetic lipids embedded in the vesicle membranes, designed to be mimics of cell adhesion molecules (CAMs).
(B) Synthetic Ligand Gated Channels
Cells communicate with each other via the controlled release of chemicals through pores in the cell membrane. We are attempting to reversibly construct pores within the phospholipid bilayer membranes of vesicles by adding compounds (hinges) that will trigger the self-assembly of a pore within the membrane
(C) Protease Screening on Liquid Crystal Arrays
We are using changes in the optical properties of thermotropic liquid crystal (LC) coated glass slides to screen the action of unknown proteases on large peptide libraries. The protease-catalysed cleavage of peptidic lipids causes a change in surface activity, which alters the alignment of the LC layer and gives an optical response. A change in brightness when viewed through crossed polarisers indicates a positive result and signals the protease is specific for that peptide sequence.